By Jean Strauber, Entertainment Editor
Once again the Skirball Museum will be hosting a concert series of music from around the globe on Thursday nights from July 21- August 25 at 8:00 p.m. free of charge in the Skirball’s festive c o u r t y a r d . Music Director Yatrika Shah- Rais curates the 2011 Sunset Concerts season which features an eclectic lineup of artists representing music from around the globe: Maria de Barros (July 21), the West Coast premiere of Red Baraat (July 28), Yemen Blues (August 4), Nuriya (August 11), Thomas Mapfumo and The Blacks Unlimited (August 18), and Mr. Vallenato (August 25).
“We are pleased to mark the quinceañera of Sunset Concerts at the Skirball,” remarked Jordan Peimer, Skirball Director of Programs. “Presented as part of our mission to build a community that embraces every cultural and ethnic identity, the Sunset
Concerts invite music lovers from across Los Angeles to gather in our spectacular courtyard and experience the best in world music today.”
The 2011 Sunset Concerts season begins on Thursday, July 21, with Maria de Barros, who invites audiences to experience the joyful musical traditions of her native Cape Verde. Through her work, de Barros expresses the important influence that French culture and music have had on her life growing up in West Africa.
In addition to the African- and Latininflected coladeiras and bluesy mornas common to Cape Verdean music, de Barros also takes inspiration from the music of Spain, the Caribbean, and Latin America. On Thursday, July 28, Sunset Concerts c o n t i n u e with the West Coast premiere of Red Baraat. MC and Master dhol (North Indian drum) player Sunny Jain founded Red Baraat in celebration of sounds he remembers from childhood trips to his parents’ native India, along with the rock and ska he grew up loving. Melding the infectious Punjabi rhythm known as Bhangra with a funk reminiscent of New Orleans brass, the critically hailed New York– based ensemble mesmerizes audiences with its powerful and joyous live show.
Founded by rising star and charismatic Yemenite Israeli vocalist Ravid Kahalani and arranger/ bassist Omer Avital, the nine-member Yemen Blues plays an ebullient mix of traditional Yemenite Jewish melodies, American blues, jazz, funk, and West and North African grooves on Thursday, August 4. On Thursday, August 11, Nuriya combines sizzling Spanish vocals with rumba, flamenco, Afro- Cuban drumming, Arabic melodies, Gypsy brass, and rhythms from the Middle East and the Caribbean.
Born in Mexico City into a Jewish Middle Eastern and Latin family, the lively young singer studied Afro- Cuban music in Cuba and Hebrew and Arabic melodies in Israel. At the Skirball, Nuriya takes the stage backed by a stellar multinational ten-piece ensemble. Widely revered in his homeland as the “Lion of Zimbabwe,” Thomas Mapfumo brings the protest music he invented known as Chimurenga (which means “revolutionary struggle” in Shona) to the Skirball on Thursday, August 18.
His compositions mix traditional Shona mbira (thumb piano) music with Western rock and other modern genres. Even as they decry social injustice, political oppression, the AIDS crisis, and domestic violence, Mapfumo’s uplifting, upbeat, and danceable songs celebrate the human spirit and speak to the universal need for freedom.
The 2011 Sunset Concerts season concludes on Thursday, August 25, with Jorge Villarreal (a.k.a. Mr. Vallenato), the renowned Mexican American accordion virtuoso who brings to the stage his lifelong and deep love for Colombian folk music, including cumbia and vallenato.
The Skirball Cultural Center is located at 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90049. For more information call (310) 440-4500 or go to www.skirball.org FREE ADMISSION; NO RESERVATIONS. Limited seating on a first-come, first-served basis. Parking $10 per car. CASH ONLY.